Saturday, January 1, 1977

Marcel Proust's final book in In Search of Lost Time published 50 years ago this year

First posted 6/27/2020; last updated 7/6/2020.

In Search of Lost Time (aka “Remembrance of Things Past”) (A La Recherche du temps Perdu)

Marcel Proust

First Publication: 1913-1927

Category: Modernist novel

Sales: ?

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

Author Graham Greene (The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter) called Proust “the greatest novelist of the 20th century” AZ and Harold Bloom specifically singled out In Search of Lost Time as being “widely recognized as the major novel of the twentieth century.” AZ W. Somerset Maugham (Of Human Bondage) went a step further, calling it “the greatest fiction to date.” AZ Virginia Woolf said, “Proust so titillates my own desire for expression that I can hardly set out the sentence. Oh if I could write like that!”

Bengt Holmqvist called it “the last great classic of French epic prose tradition.” AZ “It gained fame in English in translations by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin as Remembrance of Things Past, but the title In Search of Lost Time, a literal rendering of the French, has gained usage since D. J. Enright adopted it for his revised translation published in 1992.” GR

In Search of Lost Time follows the narrator's recollections of childhood and experiences into adulthood during late 19th century to early 20th century aristocratic France.” WK This massive 1.2 million-word, 4000+ page novel is broken into seven volumes. It is “known both for its length and its theme of involuntary memory.” GR It is “a panoramic and richly comic portrait of France in the author’s lifetime, and a profound meditation on the nature of art, love, time, memory and death.” AZ “Every sentence can be a struggle to finish may sound forbidding, but this masterpiece of modernity, taking us into every nook and cranny of the narrator's fascinating mind, is worth all the effort.” TG

It “began to take shape in 1909. Proust continued to work on it until his final illness in the autumn of 1922 forced him to break off. Proust established the structure early on, but even after volumes were initially finished he kept adding new material, and edited one volume after another for publication. The last three of the seven volumes contain oversights and fragmentary or unpolished passages as they existed in draft form at the death of the author; the publication of these parts was overseen by his brother Robert.” AZ

Here are the seven volumes:

  • Swann’s Way (1913)
  • Within a Budding Grove (aka In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flowers) (1919)
  • The Ghermantes Way (1921)
  • Sodom and Gomorrah (aka Cities of the Plain) (1922)
  • The Captive (aka The Prisoner (1923)
  • The Fugitive (1925)
  • Time Regained (aka Finding Time Again) (1927)

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Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina published 100 years ago this year

First posted 6/26/2020; updated 7/6/2020.

Anna Karenina

Leo Tolstoy

First Publication: 1877

Category: realist novel

Sales: ?

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

“From its famous opening sentence – ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’ – to its stunningly tragic conclusion, this enduring tale of marriage and adultery plumbs the very depths of the human soul.” BN

Tolstoy referred to Anna Karenina as “a novel from modern life.” AZ “He described in great detail the ‘shattered world’ devoid of moral unity” AZ in which “there are no coincidences” AZ and “topics that are close to each person are raised and remain unanswered.” AZ

Anna Karenina is “a beautiful woman who falls deeply in love with a wealthy army officer, the elegant Count Vronsky,” BN despite being “married to a powerful government minister.” BN “Desperate to find truth and meaning in her life, she rashly defies the conventions of Russian society and leaves her husband and son to live with her lover. Condemned and ostracized by her peers and prone to fits of jealousy that alienate Vronsky, Anna finds herself unable to escape an increasingly hopeless situation.” BN

“Set against this tragic affair is the story of Konstantin Levin, a melancholy landowner whom Tolstoy based largely on himself…Levin embarks on his own search for spiritual fulfillment through marriage, family, and hard work. Surrounding these two central plot threads are dozens of characters whom Tolstoy seamlessly weaves together, creating a breathtaking tapestry of nineteenth-century Russian society.” BN

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